While Perspex screens and floor marking have made the in-store shopping experience visibly different, it’s appointment booking technology that is changing things behind the scenes, says The Economist.
In a recent article in The Economist Applied titled “Welcome to the appointment economy“, Qudini’s appointment scheduling software appears centre-stage for its ability to create a faster, safer and more engaging customer experience during Covid-19.
In an interview with The Economist’s Jeremy Kingsley, Qudini’s CEO and Co-founder, Imogen Wethered, shared her thoughts on how appointment booking software is reshaping the customer experience in today’s coronavirus era.
Imogen noted a sharp interest in reservation and queuing technology as a direct result of the pandemic. “We’re seeing a lot of retailers using this as a catalyst for projects they already had on the roadmap,” she says.
The article pointed out that appointment technology has changed a lot in recent years, transitioning from a receptionist’s notebook or a vibrating puck, to analytics-based booking systems that use smartphones instead of pen and paper, and can integrate with inventory management, point of sale and CRM platforms.
Queuing and appointment scheduling software is also useful in engaging customers with relevant content, reminders, offers and personalised service, says Imogen. “You’re seeing this great emergence of the omni-channel retail concept.”
Instead of asking customers to join physical queues outside of stores, Qudini’s software allows customers to pre-book a time to visit a store. Customers receive a confirmation message and are reminded of their upcoming appointment by SMS, email and personal calendar links. This approach was recently rolled out by Irish department store retailer, Brown Thomas (owned by Selfridges Group).
Appointment scheduling software is an excellent way to promote your in-store services – and it’s also great for managing footfall to your stores during Covid-19.
Allow customers to book appointments with your in-store experts via your website, app, social channels or over the phone, and keep them engaged with regular notifications and alerts via SMS, email and calendar links. This gives your in-store experts better control of their schedules – staff can access a calendar interface and itinerary to prepare for customer appointments – and it also allows store managers to better allocate internal resources.
Imogen also pointed out a strong customer preference for virtual queues, which helped increase transaction values by a third at optical retailer, Specsavers.
Finally, Imogen also noted that British queuing norms were forged during the rationing schemes of World War II, and expressed her hopes that the popularity of virtual queues will be able to trace their routes back to the socially-distanced days of Covid-19.
A big thank you to The Economist for the chance to talk retail and appointment booking!